Plans Tackle Campus Eyesores
Lauinger and Reiss renovations could take decade to complete
Published: Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, October 16, 2013 17:10
While campus has been consumed lately by discussions of short-term housing solutions, the university has kept an eye on the long term, with the goal of eventually renovating Lauinger Library and Reiss Science Building.
Lauinger Library administrators estimate that fundraising, planning and construction for the library will take approximately 10 years, although there is no definite timeline.
After completing fundraising for the Intercollegiate Athletic Center, the construction of which is set to begin this spring, the university will begin raising $150 million for the library project.
The ideas behind renovation of Lauinger extend back three years, when library administrators began working with Bowie-Gridley Architects to develop preliminary designs that would expand the library while also renovating the existing structure. Bowie-Gridley is also the firm that is designing the IAC.
With the concept of a “Library on the Potomac” in mind, the plans lay out an expansion to the library, which services more than a million users per year, that would extend the south wall of the building to Prospect Street. Keeping the style of cascading Village A apartments, the architects’ design of the south side would include a reading room with two-story glass windows overlooking the Potomac River and an outdoor patio above Prospect Street.
Renovations to the other walls of the library would involve adding windows to the existing structure, including by the atrium and on the front of the tower.
These renovations, however, would preserve the exterior style of the building.
“We are being very respectful of the brutalist conditions of the building because they are part of the history of the campus,” Bowie-Gridley principal architect Paul Lund said. “The way the edition has been composed is that it cues from the underlying geometry of the brutalist building.”
Though Lauinger’s style is no favorite among students, University Librarian Artemis Kirk pointed to its continued relevance on campus.
“There is an aspect of preservation,” Kirk said. “In the library, we are all about preserving and protecting for generations to come, and that does include the building. What can be preserved on the exterior will be and should be.”
Renovations to the interior of the library would add new study spaces, such as the reading room, areas specified for graduate students, cubicles designated for doctoral students and the relocation of Midnight MUG to the fourth floor. In total, these changes are expected to add approximately 1,500 seats to the library.
“The library is a lot more than just books and a lot more than just the physical resources we have here,” said Jennifer Smith, library coordinator of communications, outreach and programming. “We know students use it for a lot of other things, including study space and social space.”
It is unclear at this point what studying accommodations would be made for library patrons during the construction period.
Another project on administrators’ long-term wish list is renovation of Reiss Science Building.
“Reiss has always been in the long-range plans,” university architect Jodie Ernst said, adding that nothing has been solidified yet.
Now that Regents Hall is completed and the Northeast Triangle proposal has made it partway through the neighborhood approval process, the university is taking a closer look at Reiss. At an Old Georgetown Board meeting in July that evaluated Northeast Triangle, university officials discussed the future of Reiss.
“The structure is worth saving; however, all the systems need to be replaced, as does the building envelope. We do expect that it will be reskinned in the future,” Assistant Vice President for Planning and Project Management Regina Bleck said at the time.
“It’s funding-dependent,” Bleck added in an interview with The Hoya last week. “Given the age of the building, all windows would need to be replaced, as well as the central A/C system.”
In sketches, Sasaki Associates, the firm responsible for Georgetown’s master planning, has shown Reiss’ exterior changed to incorporate limestone and carder rock, which are used on both Copley and White-Gravenor halls and used in current designs for Northeast Triangle. The sketches also remove the stairs that are currently at the entrance to Reiss.
Vice President for Planning and Facilities Management Robin Morey said that administrators and architects would try to better facilitate academics in a renovated building, potentially by connecting Reiss to Regents Hall through a sky-bridge to create a science corridor.
Initial steps in any renovation of Reiss would be identifying academic programs that would work well in the building, which is currently not used to full capacity.
“We know that Reiss needs a renovation. We need a program to fit that — the building is only roughly half full,” Morey said. “Right now, we have nothing specifically on the books.”
As with Lauinger, no dates have been set for renovation.
Hoya Staff Writer Madison Ashley contributed reporting.